I remember back in campus we did an experiment one Friday night where we mixed coffee and spirits. The aim was to have the stimulating effects of the caffeine and the buzz-inducing properties of the alcohol. Fast forward and these days we have drinks like Smirnoff Guarana that combines the two.

Despite the awesome feeling that comes along with drinking such drinks, experts worry that alcoholic energy drinks cloud people’s judgment in two important ways: by making them think they are not as drunk as if they’d only had alcohol, and causing them to crave another round more strongly. The debate that ensues from this is whether it is riskier to drink such alcoholic energy drinks than it is to drink the alcohol alone.

Bartenders have been mixing energy drinking like Red Bull with vodka, gin, Jagermeister, and hard cider for a while now. The popularity of such cocktails is what led companies to create drinks such as Guarana. According to some researchers, the caffeine in these drinks has the ability to mask intoxication which could make people underestimate how drunk they are and impair their ability to cut themselves off. Feeling tired is an important factor in many people’s decision to stop drinking, but the caffeine renders these feelings obsolete.

From surveys, researchers do know that people who drink alcoholic energy drinks also consume more alcohol and tend to drink for longer than people who drink just booze.

Not everyone agrees that alcoholic energy drinks are riskier than plain cocktails though. In one survey,  subjects reported lower overall consumption of alcoholic energy drinks than those with just alcohol over the course of a night when they were drinking only one or the other.

Another debate is on whether alcoholic energy drinks have more negative consequences—like having a hangover or passing out—as compared to those who stick to alcohol.

With these drinks becoming more and more popular with party goers, the question remains on whether we should be worried or not.